October 2014


It was a good month for our collection. We brought home quite a good number of decks for it, so the short list was quite long at first. Two modern decks by the American artist Chet Phillips, with a catchy style of drawing humanized animals, lasted until the end in our monthly competition, as well as two vintage French advertising decks with lovely non-standard designs. But we chose a standard pattern!

The two figures above will look very familiar for the Dutch card players and probably for Belgians as well. They belong to a pattern that is known as the Dutch pattern, even though no Dutch playing card manufacturer has ever produced this pattern. It was exported by Belgian manufacturers to Holland, since the first quarter of the 20th century in large numbers. We usually try to avoid to show standard patterns here, but for this deck we'll make an exception. Although we're not particularly fond of this pattern, it is something that we both grew up with. So we may have become bored with the pattern itself, since a few years we've become more and more interested to find a path back to the origin of the pattern and we have begun buying the older and antique ones whenever we found a deck that we could afford. So there was a good reason to bring this one home.


We found it at the latest meeting of the Dutch collectors in Nieuwerbrug on the 19th. The first thing we noticed were the odd dimensions of the cards. They measure 50 x 85 mm. In size quite similar to the cards that carry the Liegois pattern, such as the "cartes marbrées". The cards don't have indices or numbers, so we suspected that they had some age. What surprised us was that -notwithstanding the odd size- the courts looked so familiar for such an old deck. Not only the designs but also the color scheme is very close to that of the present Dutch pattern, produced for the Dutch market by Carta Mundi, as shown in the small pictures here below.

At first we couldn't find any images or info about this deck. It wasn't in Luc Biebouw's elaborate book about Belgian playing cards, which was published earlier this year and we couldn't find it in other books about Belgian cards either. In such a case it's good to know Filip Cremers. He pointed out that we had overlooked it, as it was described in a book that we have, "Turnhoutse Speelkaarten", written in 1983 by Dr. E. van Autenboer and co-author....... Filip Cremers.

The deck was printed by Brépols & Dierckx Zoon from Turnhout and published as "Cartes Flamandes". In the book it's dated quite exactly as 24 November 1903. The decks were sold in a paper wrapper.


The aces show scenes from Brugge, Gent, Brussel, Leuven en Oudenaarde. Although these cities are situated in the Flemish part of Belgium, their names as well as the descriptions of all the scenes are in French: Bruges, Gand, Bruxelles, Louvain and d'Audenarde. Obviously the deck was meant to serve the players in the Walloon part of Belgium, hence the French name of the deck too: "Cartes Flamandes" (Flemish Cards). We don't think that the pattern had a special name at that time, but that the name was derived from the aces that it came with. Here Flemish scenes, so "Cartes Flamandes" as name on the wrapper.

The deck consists of 52 cards. No joker was ever published. It was printed on a sturdy, thick card, so the complete deck is rather thick too.


We appreciate the deck because it is one more to enlighten the path to the origin of this pattern. We already have some other early, antique examples in our collection. Hopefully one day we'll have gathered enough decks to illustrate a history of the pattern -from its origin to its evolution into the "Dutch" pattern as we know it- in a comprehensive article and separate xpo.

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